M. Ted, I think your point about art having become as disposable as last year's car is a good one. Many audiences are often fickle and appreciate only what they are told is good by critics, or by the popularity of the artist. It's a "consumer" attitude that is prevalent rather than a humanistic or value-oriented appreciative view that controls the art marketplace.
As to the subsidy of artists by corporations, Pete Seeger was never endorsed by any. Nor was Woody. Their songs were able to make it to the charts and financed them to a degree because of the licensing organizations for songwriters. Unfortunately, Woody was not able to enjoy the benefits of the song royalties because of his encroaching disease. Leadbelly, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy and others like them were considered too radical to be subsidized by CocaCola or General Foods.
One exception to this seems to be the advent of The Old Town School of Folk Music who through the aegis of Director Jim Hirsch has gained corporate sponsorship. The jury is out on whether the School can adhere to it's original design, this way.
I agree that the artist has to please him/herself first before pleasing others whether the others are a state- controlled autocracy or a Capitalist financier. There will be those artists who don't fit and will not be terribly popular or even known well. There will be no bucks behind them as a result.
The solution is maybe to have more imput in the value of the art by the artist him/herself. Art collectives in various fields are a good idea, I believe. When Picasso was being interrogated by the Nazi's, he was able to salvage the paintings by Cezanne through convincing the Nazis that they were valueless. When artists care about each other, wonderful things can happen. As a collective voice they have more ablility to find funding for their work. In folk music, there are generous people like Pete Seeger who has supported the talents of many folk-type performers unselfishly. I believe the Folk Alliance may have this goal in mind but I'm wondering if they haven't gone the way of the music business machinery rather than support for traditional folk music artists?
I've gone on too long. Sorry about that.